I tend to find particular questions all-consuming at one moment and then ontologically dull at another. This helps to explain why I have written about such disparate subjects as the medicalization of religious dissent in seventeenth-century England, the intersections between Biblical criticism and Darwinian evolutionary theory in the nineteenth century, and the significance of debt when thinking about class and capitalism in the twentieth century. My primary areas of interest are political and social theory broadly construed—particularly the gnarled past, uncertain present and conceivable futures of the Marxist tradition. I am currently writing a book on Marx, Marxism and the study of religion for Routledge’s Key Thinkers in the Study of Religion series. After that, who knows?
I love Oaxocan food, hate having my picture taken, and wish I’d learned Russian in college. My wife and I have two sons and a Newfoundland who is dumber than a stubbed toe. We spend our summers bringing a mid-nineteenth century farmhouse into the twenty-first century, sailing the waters of Downeast Maine, and losing the battle to keep red squirrels and field mice out of the attic.
Recent Graduate Seminars
- Marx, Weber, Bourdieu
- The Landscapes of American Capitalism
REL3142: Religion, the Self, and Society
This course covers interpretation of religious phenomena by the major social theorists of modern times. The course is divided into two parts: the psychology of religion and the sociology of religion. Meets LS Cultural Practice (LS-CUL).
REL3160: Religion and Science
This course provides an historical and philosophical analysis of major questions in the relationship between religion and science. Meets Liberal Studies: History (LS-HIS).
REL3142: Religion, Self & Society
This course is structured around the methodological principle that we should abandon the habit of treating some discourses or practices as being irreducibly distinct from mundane political and economic life. That is to say, religion should not be viewed as a substantive term of analysis but as a piece of political rhetoric—a way of strategically representing some all-too-political aspects of collective life as non-political. The Fall 2016 version of the course will thematically focus on nineteenth-century appeals to a “Providential Order” in order to justify, denounce or attack the constitutive institutions of chattel slavery in the United States. Meets LS Cultural Practice (LS-CUL).
REL3160: Religion and Science (Honors)
This course examines how and why evolutionary theory has been identified—by groups self-described as “Creationists” or “Intelligent Design Theorists”—as being uniquely hostile to biblically-based commitments. In the first section of the course, we will explore the relevant texts from the Hebrew Bible (esp. Genesis) and the historical diversity of its interpreters. In the second section of the class, we will read Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and highlight the ways its "one long argument" has been seen as buttressing, damaging or indifferent to theological claims about the history of life on earth. In the final section of the course, we will challenge the notion that the continuing “evolution-creation struggle” is about epistemology, or evidence, or rationality by emphasizing the fundamentally political nature of the controversy. Meets Liberal studies history requirement.